Braving the Arctic for the Polar Bear Run

The Polar Bear Run / Walk for Autism was today. I can’t tell you how humbling it was to have so many people gather to walk (or run) for “Team Finn.” We were extra cool and created bright yellow puffy painted shirts (see photo). People would walk by us and say “Go Team Finn!” One man even said, “Oh, there’s Finn! I remembered your team from registration!” Finn was wearing a shirt that said, “I’m Finn,” so there was no mistaking him!

Team Finn Part 1, including our runners and team founders Mary and Kelly and their families.

Team Finn Part 1, including our runners and team founders Mary and Kelly and their families.

Team Finn Part 2, including our "Angry Ducks."

Team Finn Part 2, including our “Angry Ducks.”

I, of course, was an emotional mess. I was so touched by the people with no direct connection to autism. People who don’t live it every day, but would endure sub-freezing temperatures to walk in the name of autism. Even more touched that our “team” would walk in support of Finn. In support of our family.

I was so honored.

Honored that past students of Joe’s (and one of our babysitters) Mary and Kelly thought on their own to start this team for Finn.

Honored that our family friends, even one with a newborn baby, would brave the cold; leaving the comfort of their warm homes, juggling their own personal schedules to walk for Finn.

Honored that the group, as a whole, gathered in support of a cause that is so near and dear to our family.

I felt at ease among the group at the walk. People were tripping over themselves to be kind to one another. Passersby offered to take pictures for us. Strangers said “hi” to Finn, fawned over the babies and complimented our shirts. It was nice to be around people who “got it.” People who were willing to offer encouragement to our son, but knew that if he didn’t reciprocate “appropriately,” that was ok, too. People who turned a blind eye to a tantrum or uneasy social exchange. People who didn’t need eye contact because they knew that love and personal connection aren’t always found in the eyes.

Daddy pinning the race number on Finn.

Daddy pinning the race number on Finn.

But somehow, Finn didn’t mind the spotlight. Except for that one picture where he turned his back (a typical occurrence in our house). He interacted with people when they talked to him. He played with the other kids while they ran around a pole to busy themselves while waiting for the walk to start. He literally led our team in the walk and even ran a few blocks with the other kids! There have been times when Finn couldn’t even walk two blocks on the boardwalk, let alone run without tripping! It was amazing! And yet another victory that is not lost on me!  

Today was a true testament to how far we have come. How much our family has changed in two short years. How big our hearts have grown. And just how full they can be through the kindness of others.

Thank you friends for supporting us and showing us, and Finn, what unconditional love is.

So proud in their "Team Finn" shirts. Charlie made his own. It says, "Team Finn. He rocks. I'm his bro!" Love that kid!

So proud in their “Team Finn” shirts. Charlie made his own. It says, “Team Finn. He rocks. I’m his bro!”
Love that kid!

Author’s Note: Thank you to the Monichetti family, owners of Mike’s Seafood in Sea Isle, who have two children with autism and have organized this event for the past 5 years. Our autism community may be small, but it is powerful! You can find more information at or follow them on Facebook @Polar Bear Run Walk for Autism.


7 thoughts on “Braving the Arctic for the Polar Bear Run

  1. Love this so much, Shannon! Wish we could have been there to walk with you. I love that picture of Finn and Charlie – SO GREAT! xo Meridith

    • Oooh. That’s not good! I just looked into it on WordPress. I’m not very good at the technical side of this. That’s why I haven’t replied to the Liebster… I can’t figure out how to get it in my sidebar. I’m so embarrassed!
      Thanks for the inspiring award! You are the best! Can you do me a favor? I posted something on Feb 17. Can you see if it’s in your reader now? I monkeyed with some things. I hope it’s fixed.

      • Lol I bet that was it! Oh, and to put the award in your sidebar…

        Click on image until it is full screen. Copy image URL. (Highlight URL, Right click, copy)

        On the left side of your top toolbar under your blogs name when clicked on will show option “Widgets”. Click.

        On the left side scroll down to “Image”. Drag to right side of screen with mouse in desired location. Then click the URL box and paste the URL that you copied.


        Ta-da! 😉

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